Turning the weekend into an adventure can be as simple as hopping on I-40 with your friends and conducting an impromptu Chicago road trip. Of course, your excitement to reach your destination might mean that you speed or accidentally violate a traffic law, leading to a police officer pulling you over.
You might think that by cooperating with the officer, you will diminish the risk of a ticket and move on with your day more quickly. However, many people initially stopped for a minor issue becoming the subject of a more serious investigation. If the officer asks to search your vehicle, you may think that agreeing will allow you to make it on time for your reservations for dinner.
What you don’t realize is that they could find something in your vehicle that will lead to criminal charges.
An officer only needs to have constructive possession to arrest you
Actual possession or physical possession occurs when you have something in your hands, in a bag that you carry or in a pocket in your clothing. You have the item on your body, which makes it almost impossible to claim you were unaware of it or didn’t have control over it.
When it comes to drugs in your vehicle, they may not be in your pocket. They could be in the center console or tucked under a rug in the back. If a police officer finds drugs in your vehicle, they could potentially try to charge you with a crime. The Arkansas courts have repeatedly affirmed that constructive possession is sufficient for drug possession charges.
Constructive possession means that you were the only one with access to a space and control over it. If you carpool, take your kid’s soccer team to practice once a week or just purchased a used vehicle, you may have the grounds to fight back against a drug offense by challenging claims of constructive possession. You could claim that you didn’t know that the items were in the vehicle and that you therefore had no direct control over them.
You can avoid such complications by asserting your rights
Too many people waive their rights when dealing with the police, a mistake that later comes back to haunt them. You can better protect yourself when you know your rights.
Ensure that the officer pulling you over has a reasonable justification for doing so, and understand that you have the right to deny a request to search your vehicle. An officer can only search without your permission if they have probable cause to suspect a crime or a warrant.
Knowing your rights and what the police can do during a traffic stop could help you avoid drug charges or successfully defend against them.